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How To Do Festival Season On a Budget

Even if you haven’t been to Coachella before, you probably know what it is. And if you know what it is, then you probably also know that this celeb-infested, desert-located, Instagram-worthy is happening basically, like, RTFN (along with a million other music festivals). And while you totally want to get as much festival exposure as possible this summer (for musical enrichment purposes, of course, definitely not for Instagram), it isn’t exactly realistic for a college student to drop  $200 on a manicure for said festival. That’s why we’ve rounded up our best tips to help you rule the festival for a whole lot less.

1. Choose festivals wisely

So many music festivals, so little money. Every festival has something different to offer, from the line-up to the overall vibe. It can be tempting to want to go to any and every festival within a 50-mile radius, but that is definitely not the way to do festival season (unless you’re the Jenner sisters). It’s important to determine which aspects of festival life are the most important to you and narrow down your choices from there. If you are into major headliners, Governors Ball might be for you. For the smaller festival lovers, Firefly Music Festival in Dover, Delaware would be a great investment. It’s possible to attend any festival on a budget, but it’s definitely harder to budget for some than others. While it might be fun to go to ALL the festivals, a three-day ticket to Bonnaroo probably won’t sound as good as being able to pay your rent, come the summer’s end. 

“As a lover of music, there are so many concerts I want to go to this summer but unfortunately, due to my excessive amount of parking tickets and credit card bills, that won’t be possible,” says Tara Kerrigan, a senior at Harper College. “Therefore, I chose Lollapalooza and spent $275 on a three-day ticket. Yes, going to other festivals would be fun but it isn’t worth putting myself into a deep hole of debt.”

2. Create your look for less

While it would be cool to show up to your music festival of choice dressed like Taylor Swift, she more than likely has an extra million dollars or two lying around that the rest of us just don’t. Realistically, you probably have enough cute and comfortable clothes to last you a weekend so buying new ones isn’t completely necessary. That being said, there are ways to look festival-chic on a budget. Buget-friendly retailers that you know and love (like H&M and Forever 21 have clothing lines specifically tailored to festival attendees.

Related: 12 DIYs That Will Take Your Festival Wardrobe to the Next Level

3. Carpool and co-camp

While it’s important to attend the festival with your squad for Snapchat purposes, it is also one of the best ways to reduce the overall cost. The average general admission ticket for a music festival is anywhere from $200-400, and that doesn’t even begin to cover other expenses. Most festivals charge for parking, but with one or two cars, the cost is much more manageable because you can ~split it.~

“Part of the fun is the adventure of getting there,” says Paige Carpenter, a sophomore at the University of Arizona. “My favorite way is by road trip. Load up your car, all of your best friends and blast music all the way to Indio. It’s cheap and you get to see part of the country along the way.” 

As far as accommodations go, whether you are camping, glamping or renting a house, it is helpful to get as many friends together to cut down on costs. And who wouldn’t want a weekend-long sleepover with their besties?

4. Volunteer

It might sound strange to volunteer at an event that you are trying to attend for fun, but hear us out because it is possibly one of the easiest ways to earn your way into the festival. Usually, larger festivals need all the extra hands they can get. If you check out the official website for your festival a few months before the date, there are usually requests for volunteers. Volunteers typically get pretty sweet rewards like free tickets or at the very least, an awesome discount.

5. Find cheaper tickets

If your budgeting skills are on point and you managed to recoup the money you lost over spring break and save for a summer festival, then kudos! But most of us probably don’t fall into that category. No worries, there is still a way to get an affordable ticket without destroying your bank account—and that is eBay! Weeks (and even days) before a festival, there are people who are desperately trying to sell their tickets for whatever reason. Buying on eBay can allow you to get previously sold out tickets or even find cheaper ones. eBay is also a super safe option because it uses PayPal to ensure buyer protection. While this is more of a last-minute approach, you could end up with a great deal.

The memories that you create with your friends at a festival are invaluable, but not valuable enough to blow all of the money in your bank account over the course of a weekend. Keep these tips in mind and you can be the reigning festival queen for years to come.

She realizes that her last name is Trusty and does that make her trusty? Yes, yes it does. She cares way more about the goings on of Kylie Jenner, One Direction, and the rest of the celebrity population way more than the average person should. So as opposed to becoming a professional paparazzo, she does this while she studies Broadcast Journalism at the University of South Carolina. You can find her on Instagram @briballerina or @verytrustysource. 
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